One of the biggest talking points about 2016’s first greatly-anticipated film is that its R-rated. ‘Deadpool’ as a comic character is not afraid to decapitate someone, say a dirty joke, or overstep the boundaries that his “teacher’s pet” contemporary superheroes have set for the genre. In that aspect, there really are sequences and lines in Deadpool that are refreshing. Only in plot is the movie a little formulaic, instead, its much more about the dialogue and the violence that permeates the movie. Don’t take your kids, and maybe don’t even take your squeamish, easily-offended friend; this is definitely a movie for people that aren’t bothered by being shocked.

Ryan Reynolds is our star, and he obviously loves the role that he’s in, constantly campaigning for it since X-Men Origins: Wolverine stripped Deadpool of his uniqueness. His passion for the role and the commitment to retaining the true essence of the character really pays off. Deadpool isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly a lot of fun.

Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, a mercenary who gets paid to wreak havoc on those who have done wrong, set loose by the victims of stalking or abuse. He allows them payback, through his services. He also has met the girl of his dreams, named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), and things seem to be doing okay for Wade, until he is stricken with late-stage cancer that is about to end his life. Looking to survive, and be there for Vanessa, Wade seeks experimental treatment offered by a strange recruiter (Jed Rees). Once there, he realizes that he will be injected with a mutation, and forced to suffer until his mutation shows itself, the “clinic” being run by the ruthless Ajax (Ed Skrein) and his mutant muscle-woman named Angel Dust (Gina Carano). Although he receives regenerative powers to go with his already excellent skill-set, he becomes deformed in the process, taking away all of the Ryan Reynolds handsome-ness. Knowing his old girlfriend won’t be able to stand the sight of him, he goes after Ajax to see if the procedure can be reversed. T.J. Miller guest-stars as one of Wade’s friends, and Leslie Uggams appears as his blind roommate, and a few X-Men appear as well.

Deadpool is definitely funny. It rides the line perfectly between having too much wise-cracking and silliness or having too little to not support the bare-bones plot. The story itself isn’t all that interesting, it has a bit of revenge and a bit of a romance, both of which are well presented, but it doesn’t take the award for “most original storyline.” That’s why the shock humor and violence are so necessary. They actually elevate the material and convince the viewer that they’re watching something new, when at the heart, this is really just another Superhero movie.

The X-Men subplot feels a little tired and thrown in at the last minute; I know many people were excited to see Colossus, but I can’t help but feel that he brings down the movie. The main struggle between Wade and Ajax works, as does the romance between Wade and Vanessa. The aspect of Wade’s fear to show his new face to his girlfriend is really touching, and the scenes handling his sadness and alienation are done very well. There’s no Christian Bale face or Andrew Garfield face under that mask, trust me. This new type of vulnerability for our anti-hero connects on a very primal level, and despite some odd pacing choices, the story holds together pretty cohesively. It also helps that the R-rating can show graphic violence against our hero too, so where he is in that torture clinic, they don’t have to pull the punches of what he goes through.

Laughing throughout the entire thing helps, and it feels above the studio pressure that has defined the genre recently. Thankfully, Deadpool has just enough authenticity to be something special, and it’s definitely fun to watch how much Ryan Reynolds put into this part. When one guy he fights splatters against a road sign at about 100mph, we laugh because that type of violence is so unexpected in the hero genre. Maybe its a gimmick, but I fell for it enough to recommend.

4 stars